The SFP Grand Prix in Kansas was an action packed race with plenty of battles, contact and debris as constant highlights throughout, however the Starworks Motorsport team finished in P6 with Brendon Hartley in the 8 car and P11 in class for Alex Popow in the sister #2 Starworks BMW-Riley DP after an early downturn in luck once again.
On a hot Saturday morning, and with a much later race start of a cooler 7:00pm, the team decided to sit out the #2 Starworks during FP4. In the early evening, both Starworks cars were quick at the start of the 2 hours 45 minutes endurance event, but an early spin for Alex Popow meant that he had dropped to P23 by the end of lap one. Scott Mayer had a great stint in the 8 car and was soon up to P11 after 20 minutes of racing.
The race then unravelled for the 2 car. Alex had to bring her behind the pit wall for the team to assess and work on a substantial amount of left side damage caused by an impact with the wall within the first half hour. While the Fort Lauderdale squad worked hard to repair three corners, the splitter and tail of the 2 car, Brendon Hartley stepped in to the #8 during a DP pit stop window under the first full course caution yellow. The Flying Kiwi held position in P11 as the race returned to green.
As darkness fell, and with a subsequent dropping air temperatures after one hour of running, the team got Ryan Dalziel out in the #2 Starworks, albeit 21 laps down, but with a championship title to fight for. Under the third yellow flag of the day the team made a final driver change back to Alex in the #2 Starworks with just over an hour of the race remaining.
Following a very solid 123 laps for the 8 car crew, Brendon took the chequer in P6. During the closing stint Alex took the 2 car up to P22/ P11 in class to complete its race after 102 laps and clinch some very valuable championship points.
Alex and Ryan are now in third spot in the 2013 Rolex Series Drivers’ Championship, only 3 points behind new leaders Taylor and Angelelli on 269. The 2 car is in fourth place in the Team standings with 266 (behind leader Chip Ganassi Racing on 283) and the #8 Starworks sits in seventh position with 237 points.
Peter Baron, Team Owner: “It's been a horrific two races for the 2 car. The bright spot though is the car has been fast and Alex set the 3rd fastest time of the race post impact just using eyeball judgement for aligning the car with all the new components on it. The crew did a Herculean effort to get that car on track and we managed to salvage three additional points thanks to their efforts.
Three points is all that is separating us from a championship and we are feeling more motivated than ever to win. The 8 car had a nice race, but ultimately just did not have the pace to compete for a podium. It was a rough weekend and we just want to move on to Laguna.”
Brendon Hartley, #8 Starworks: “I made up a few places and lost a few places, then gained a few places. Ultimately we did not have the pace to win today and a bad restart after a caution maybe cost us 4th or 5th. Scott did a good first stint to keep us in contention and Starworks did a great job again all weekend.
Sixth place was still a good effort from 13th with zero mistakes from the team during the stops. I was really upset for the 2 car, but it’s nice to see they are still in the Championship title hunt. Starworks Motorsport are awesome and my money is still on them to take the title.”
Alex Popow, #2 Starworks: “It was a very disappointing day for me. I was not quite comfortable with the set up in the car while under the warmer temperatures and I made a mistake in the first 30 minutes of the race. I was not able to recover and hit the wall. The team did a great job to get us back on track, but it has now been two bad weeks for us.
At least we are still contending for the championship after all that has happened. It’s amazing that we are only three points behind with 2 races to go, so we are going to give it a big try, work harder than ever, try not to make mistakes and go to win it."
The penultimate round of the Rolex Series is at the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, Monterey, CA on September 8th and broadcast from 5:00 PM ET on FOX Sports 1 (LIVE).